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At PSU, boxer Sugar Ray Leonard recounts sex abuse

At PSU, boxer Sugar Ray Leonard recounts sex abuse

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) Retired boxing champion Sugar Ray Leonard said Monday he cried for Jerry Sandusky's accusers after hearing of the former Penn State assistant football coach's arrest on child sex abuse charges nearly a year ago.

An abuse survivor himself, Leonard said he hopes the accusers can draw from his own story and willingness to speak out about a problem that garnered national attention following the Sandusky scandal.

``What I had heard about Penn State - I cried for those victims,'' Leonard told reporters after speaking at Penn State's inaugural Child Sexual Abuse Conference. ``Because I knew what they'd dealt with, what they lived with ... It's such an awful thing that eats away at you, that makes you feel that you're to blame.''

Sandusky, 68, was sentenced to at least 30 years in prison earlier this month after being convicted on dozens of criminal counts covering abuse allegations both on and off campus. Eight accusers testified at the June trial.

Leonard said he didn't plan to reach out to the accusers. But asked what advice he would pass on, Leonard said it would be to ``surrender. And surrender means, `Yes it did happen,' but now deal with it. Speak up, speak out.

``Because if it happened to you, you can prevent it from happening to somebody else,'' he said. ``It's being of service.''

Penn State said 500 people had registered to attend the conference. About 420 showed up as of Monday, with Hurricane Sandy disrupting travel plans across the eastern United States.

After morning classes were held as scheduled, the main University Park campus shut down by about 1 p.m. But the university said the conference would go on as scheduled, wrapping up Tuesday with a keynote address by former kidnapping victim Elizabeth Smart.

The university hopes to become a leader in the research, treatment and prevention of child sex abuse. President Rodney Erickson said the origins of the conference go back a year, after Sandusky's Nov. 5 arrest.

The arrest plunged the school into scandal and led to the ouster of the late Hall of Fame coach Joe Paterno.

At the first full day of the conference, Erickson outlined ways the school is reaching out to help victims of abuse.

``Child abuse is a tragedy for children, for families and for society, and the time to step up the effort to stop it is now,'' Erickson told attendees.

Experts contend cases of abuse are underreported.

About 68,000 cases of abuse were reported to protection services in 2010, according to data cited by University of New Hampshire researcher David Finkelhor. A 2006 study estimated there are 180,000 cases known to professionals.

But Finkelhor cited an academic study that estimated there may have been 1.6 million ``contact sexual offenses'' of juveniles in 2011.

``Sexual abuse does a lot of collateral damage ... It's not uncommon in the wake of sexual abuse for whole communities to lose their sense of trust,'' he said.

Leonard revealed last year in a book that he was sexually abused by a coach while in the amateurs, something that haunted him throughout his life and led him to turn to alcohol and drugs.

The issue is still difficult for Leonard, who said he has been sober for six years. He choked up at times during his speech in a conference center ballroom.

Beside the book, Leonard said he had spoken out before a large group on the topic just once before, for a TV show. He had qualms about speaking at Penn State and sought beforehand to prepare his 15-year-old daughter, Camille, who accompanied him to State College, about what he would talk about since he thought she did not know.

It turns out, she did.

``She looked at me, and said, `Pop, I know,''' Leonard said. ``And that's a good thing because our kids need to know more. They need to be protected more.''

Leonard said Monday he was abused in separate instances by two men, both of whom are now dead. He did not identify them.

``People need to hear more of this. You know what, use me, I will be that leader,'' Leonard said. ``I will stand right there and say, `Yes, something must be done now.' Not later, now.''

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Online:

http://protectchildren.psu.edu/

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As Bryce Harper prepares for possible final home game with Nats, take a moment to appreciate the journey to get here

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USA Today

As Bryce Harper prepares for possible final home game with Nats, take a moment to appreciate the journey to get here

As Bryce Harper plays out his final homestand of the 2018 season, and as everyone ponders the potential end of his career in Washington, one aspect of his journey to this point as a member of the Nationals stands out above all when considering what Harper and those who have watched him over the years have experienced.

Though all the hair flips, towering homers and viral quotes come to mind, Harper's tenure in D.C. may most be defined and appreciated by his faults.

That's not to harp on the negative when there have been so many positives. It's to take a moment to appreciate all the steps it took for Harper to reach this point as a player and as a man, and how those in Washington watched him day after day throughout that process.

See, if Harper does leave Washington and joins another team, maybe even a really good team, that club will receive a player who is just about a finished product. He has reached his prime and is fully-formed, having cut his teeth for seven MLB seasons. That franchise and those fans would see a completely different chapter in Harper's career and, arguably, only get to know him so well, no matter how long he plays for them.

That's because Washington Nationals fans have seen Harper grow up and learn many lessons the hard way, ever since he showed up to Nationals Park in 2010, flanked by Mike Rizzo and Scott Boras and was handed a No. 34 jersey by Ryan Zimmerman. Harper was just 17 and that day wore a black suit with a black shirt and a pink tie, the combination perhaps his first regrettable move as a pro.

With the Nats, Harper had to learn not to run into walls, to not play through certain injuries, to keep his cool with umpires. He learned through public admonishment to hit the cutoff man and to hustle to first base. He realized the power of his words and his responsibility as a face of baseball.

There were mistakes and Nats fans, for the most part, loved him for them. He was the chosen one, the guy who graced the cover of Sports Illustrated at 16 years old, the No. 1 pick and the second-coming of Mickey Mantle. But he is human with flaws like the rest of us and a lot of it didn't come easy to him like most expected.

The comparisons between Harper and Mike Trout, his closest superstar contemporary, often highlighted the perceived shortcomings in Harper's game and personality. Trout never creates controversy with his words, while Harper can with remarkable ease. Trout did not draw the ire of older players and baseball lifers like Harper did in his early days.

Right or wrong, and most of the time it was uncalled for, Harper was constantly derided by people around baseball in his first few MLB seasons. But Washington fans were always there to defend him, knowing that if you watched him every night then you too would know those small transgressions - if they can even be called transgressions - do not represent the player or the man Harper actually is.

Washington fans were the first in Major League Baseball to realize Harper had the character and humility to match his transcendent on-field talents. He loves the game of baseball and, almost all of the time, plays it as hard as anyone. Harper has been criticized for playing the game too hard about as often as he has for taking off plays.

Take a step back and Harper's tenure in Washington so far has been a clear success, even matched with the expectations bestowed upon him as a teenager. He has won the National League MVP award, won an all-time classic Home Run Derby, made six All-Star teams and the Nats have won four division titles. He has helped usher in a new generation of D.C. baseball fans. The only way to top all of that would be a deep playoff run or a championship, but no one should have expected one player to make that sort of difference, given the dynamics of baseball.

Harper isn't perfect, but he is a lot closer to it than he was when he first debuted with the Nationals in 2012. The process of him getting to this point, even if it does ultimately mark the end of his tenure, should be appreciated by Nationals fans and Harper himself. No matter how much money he makes and where he plays next season, that chapter of his career is over and Washington fans should feel grateful they were there for the entire ride.

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The pressure is on for Madison Bowey to show he deserves more playing time

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USA Today

The pressure is on for Madison Bowey to show he deserves more playing time

Coming into training camp, we already knew who the Capitals’ seven defensemen were going to be this season. Among those seven is Madison Bowey who, with a new two-year, one-way contract, looks like a lock to make Washington’s roster.

In terms of playing time, however, Bowey still has a lot to prove and, according to Todd Reirden, he has not yet seen enough from him.

“We're going to put [Bowey] in opportunities where he can play minutes and play with different people and see where he's at,” Reirden said Sunday. “Obviously our three pairs we had last year worked well for us and we're fortunate to have all six of those guys back. That being said, he needs to make it a difficult decision for me on a nightly basis. That's in his hands. He needs to push me in that direction of making a change to that group because as of right now he wouldn't be.”

The Capitals’ top four on defense is set meaning Bowey will be competing for time on the third pairing with Brooks Orpik and Christian Djoos. With only three preseason games left before the start of the regular season, that makes Tuesday critical for Bowey to show Reirden that he deserves not just to make the team, but to be a regular in the lineup.

“I've always been trying to be a guy that's hard to play against and making sure it's a tough night for the opponents,” Bowey said after Tuesday’s morning skate. “For myself, it's playing a two-way game and sticking to that. When I'm kind of throwing my weight around and being engaged and playing with urgency, I think that's when I'm at my best.”

The issue Reirden sees is that while there are strengths to Bowey’s game, they are not always prevalent on the ice in games.

“I think he's got to continue to allow the things that are difference makers in his game to show up,” Reirden said. “He's a big strong guy that can skate so he's got to be very difficult to play against in the defensive zone. And his skating ability up ice has got to be a factor in terms of adding to the offense when he gets the opportunity and trying to use his shot and his offensive instincts in zone. Those are the things he has in his toolbox that we need to see more on a regular basis.”

In addition to being a physical defenseman, Bowey also possesses strong offensive instincts. Yet, neither aspect of his game was all that evident last season when Bowey was still adjusting to the NHL. That sort of initial struggle is to be expected for many young players who tend to overthink the game. They need time to let the game become more instinctive.

But now, it is time to see improvement from Bowey in those areas.

“When I'm thinking and not just playing my game, that's when you can get into trouble,” he said. “When I'm just playing urgent, trusting my instincts and letting the game come to me, I think that's when I'm at my best.”

When talking about his expectations for him on Tuesday, Reirden described Bowey as a “veteran.” He’s not seen as a developing player anymore.

Clearly, the standard has been raised for Bowey. He needs to respond.

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